Maintenance fluid therapy represents the volume of fluids and amount of electrolytes and glucose needed to replace anticipated physiological losses from breath, sweat and urine and to prevent hypoglycaemia. For 50 years, this therapy was based on Holliday and Segar's formula, which proposed to match children's water and electrolyte requirements on a weight-based calculation using hypotonic solutions. Recent publications highlight the risk of hyponatraemia in the postoperative period and the facilitating role of a hypotonic infusion, leading some people to recommend replacing hypotonic with isotonic solutions.
The postoperative period is at risk for nonosmotic secretion of antidiuretic hormone, which reduces the ability of the kidneys to excrete free water. In the context of antidiuretic hormone release, the associated low urine output makes maintenance volume requirement decrease to 50% of the calculated hourly rate. While isotonic fluids are recommended during anaesthesia, controversies still exist on the nature of fluid for maintenance therapy in the postoperative period. The proof for a benefit of isotonic fluids in this context is weak; further investigations are needed to make a decision. Whatever the choice, an individualized maintenance infusion protocol for each patient is necessary.
As free water excretion is altered for all children in the postoperative period, it is necessary to reduce the volume of maintenance fluid therapy to half the previously recommended volume. The choice of an isotonic solution should be more pertinent to that of a hypotonic solution, but evidence is lacking for a definitive answer.
aFaculty of Medicine, University ‘de la Méditerranée’, Marseille, France
bDepartment of Paediatric Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, La Timone Children’s Hospital, Marseille, France
Correspondence to Professor Olivier Paut, Department of Paediatric Anaesthesia and Intensive Care (Pr J Camboulives), La Timone Children's Hospital, 264, rue Saint-Pierre, 13385 Marseille cedex 05, France; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org